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Road Trips:  How to Plan an Adventure on America’s Scenic Drives and Byways


The appeal of road trips lies in their versatility, allowing travelers to chart their own course, discover hidden gems, and forge unforgettable memories. The open road beckons with the promise of new horizons, captivating landscapes, and the freedom to stop whenever and wherever curiosity strikes. Whether it’s the thrill of exploring picturesque countryside, indulging in local cuisine at roadside diners, or sharing laughter with friends and family in the confines of a car, road trips provide an unparalleled opportunity for bonding and discovery. The anticipation of the unknown, the thrill of the journey, and the sense of independence make road trips an enduring source of joy for adventurers of all ages.


Did you know that most states in the U.S. have entire collections of scenic drives and byways that journey through charming small towns, showcase stunning scenic vistas, and offer picturesque alternatives to interstate highways? The best place to discover these drives is the Travel Byways section of this website, where road trip dreams take flight! You’ll notice that the routes are categorized by state as America’s Byways and Additional Byways. America’s Byways are a collection of the most scenic and culturally significant roads, highways, and routes in the U.S. These routes have been chosen for their exceptional scenic, natural, historic, cultural, and recreational value by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.


The first step in planning a road trip is deciding how much time you have for travel. If you’re looking for a day trip or weekend getaway, you’ll want to consider a regional adventure. But if you have more time, you could plan a route across multiple states that includes several scenic drives and types of experiences.


Planning on the Travel Byways homepage begins by selecting a state. Use the links on the state page to find more information about the collection of scenic routes within that state. For example, after clicking on  Minnesota and scrolling past the list of scenic drives, there is a link to download a Minnesota Scenic Byways map that includes all of the routes in the state. Downloadable maps are also available for additional states including Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Nevada, Ohio, and many others.


When you click on Vermont from the Travel Byways homepage, you’ll find a link to a Vermont Byways guide and map. There are also downloadable travel guides for the scenic drives in Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Wyoming among others.


To further refine your search and travel planning, select a specific byway from a state page to learn more about the route and find links to travel information from local sources. For example, selecting the Cascade Loop National Scenic Byway from the state of Washington page reveals a link to the Cascade Loop byway website under “Byway Visitor Information.” Similarly, if you select Florida Keys Scenic Highway from the Florida page, a local website with detailed information about the scenic highway is linked under the same label.


Once you have selected your road trip route, download the available maps, guides, and apps. Taking a printed copy of any maps as backup is always a good idea, especially in remote or rural areas where cell service may be limited. Lodging reservations should be made in advance. Some locations are fully booked through the peak season, including many RV parks. If there are specific attractions, restaurants, or shops you hope to visit, it’s a good idea to confirm their operating hours before your trip. Some small businesses have limited hours during off-peak seasons.


Finally, pack some snacks and your phone charger and hit the road! Remember to take every opportunity to get out of the car to truly experience the routes you’ve chosen. The drives featured on Travel Byways have been selected to showcase the most unique American stories and places. The Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway in Colorado is a 131-mile route that follows historic railroad and stagecoach routes leading to North America’s greatest gold camp, three world-class fossil sites, and numerous historic sites. The five communities along the route offer travelers a glimpse into this area’s rich cultural heritage. The Chesapeake Country All-American Road in Maryland offers an epic journey along one of the last distinct landscapes in the Mid-Atlantic region. The byway links the Eastern Shore’s most unique resources – its working landscapes and waterfronts, historic town centers, recreation sites, and pristine natural areas – and provides travelers the opportunity to enjoy and understand the area’s rich history and culture.


In the world of travel, few experiences can rival the sheer joy and freedom of a road trip. It’s a journey where you become the captain of your destiny, steering through captivating landscapes, discovering hidden gems, and creating indelible memories along the way. Whether you’re seeking a quick weekend getaway or have the luxury of an extended expedition, America’s diverse collection of scenic drives and byways has something for everyone. As you plan your road trip, remember to explore the Travel Byways website, where you can find valuable resources and information about routes in each state. Be sure to download maps, book accommodations in advance, and check operating hours for specific attractions. Yet, amidst the planning, don’t forget the essence of a road trip – the unexpected stops, conversations with locals, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the unique stories and cultures of America’s diverse landscapes. So, pack your bags, fill up the gas tank, and hit the open road, because the allure of road trips beckons you to savor these uniquely American adventures.